What’s in a business name? A rose by any other name….

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OK, it’s true, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But if its name was, say, “spiderwort”, who would ever know? Who wants to smell a spiderwort flower?!?

Same goes with the name of your business. Regardless of how exciting your business is, if it doesn’t inspire a customer to choose you or shout the loudest in a crowded marketplace, it’s simply not the right name.

It’s not doing its job.

And if you get it wrong – it’s not something that can easily be changed. Once the company has been established; the business name registered; business cards and stationary printed, signage constructed, contracts signed, trademarks registered and the title “BOSS” hanging on your door – it can be a costly and disruptive exercise to rebrand.

If you haven’t committed to a name yet, phew! This is your opportunity to do the research, take your time, stop to smell the flowers (maybe not the spiderworts) and get it right the first time.

So, what’s in a successful business name?

It must be creative, it must be unique and it absolutely must be memorable. It should rock the boat, as well as the red carpet and show off your swag! It doesn’t need to be a literal description of what you do (in fact, avoid this completely), but once heard, it sticks. It’s both an ah-ha and a lasting first impression. Smart, savvy, sizzling.

THAT is a successful business name.

But like all inspiring ideas, the proof is in the implementation. The difference between the ah-ha and the uh-oh is being able to execute the idea. Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction:

  1. Keep it short. We are bombarded by so many sights and sounds all vying for our attention. So the shorter the better. For example, Coca-Cola became “Coke”, McDonald’s is now “Maccas” and you may know the brand “3M” but did you know they were originally the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company?
  2. Make up a name. Think of the most successful and iconic brands – Adidas, Reebok, Coke, Pepsi, Wotif – all made up names! You will have a greater chance of trademarking a made up name than if it was a descriptive name such as “Dependable Pest Control.”
  3. Make it meaningful. Smith & Sons means nothing. Smith & Sons Trucking says what they do, but isn’t memorable. “Keep on Trucking” is a name you’ll remember.
  4. Get creative! Combining meaningful with creative is even better. Take Virgin Airlines. When Richard Branson began his empire, someone suggested the word “virgin” because they were new at business. Branson loved it. Take a characteristic of your business and make it your calling card. Why hide that you’re “fresh”? Virgin was unique and unforgettable.
  5. Create an emotion. When Steve Jobs started his business in his parent’s garage, the desktop computer was an absurd concept – who would want a big ugly machine on their desk? Steve chose the name Apple inspired by memories of visiting an apple farm in the summer. He thought the name was “fun, spirited and not intimidating”. Seriously, who doesn’t like a juicy red apple? Touch the heart, touch the memory, touch the desire and you’ve found the magic touch.

Finally, when you’ve narrowed your top choices, write them down and walk away. Sleep on it. Take some time to get a feel for each of them. Over time, there may be one that keeps jumping out at you and sticks in your mind. If all else fails, leave it for a couple of weeks and then say the first name you remember.

That’s the business name we’re likely to remember, too.

Follow these tips and you’ll be starting your business, smelling like a rose … rather than a spiderwort!

Over the coming weeks I will be looking at how to create the right logo and the importance of protecting your brand. So stay tuned …